Do you make sure to buy at one specific store only because they offer you discount the more often you buy something?
Do you collect points at the Gas Station with every liter of fuel you tank up to eventually redeem 20 points for a keychain or plushy?
And maybe you seriously try to get all three blue streets for the Mc Donalds monopoly game to win the grand prize?
If you can answer one of these questions with yes than you have been affected by one of the strongest emerging trends of this time:
Gamification happens everywhere: marketing, education, project management, recruiting, health and many more aspects of our daily life and work.
Gamification is the use of game design methods and mechanics to make any non-game application, process or subject more engaging, interactive and fun.
How do you gamify something?
By thinking like a Game Designer!
Over the last three decades in which gaming has become popular, Game Designer were figuring out how to make people do certain things they don’t like to do, without using force and being able to predict actions and outcomes.
In Games we follow objectives, solve problems, try to overcome challenges and sometimes are defeated over and over again but without losing the hope, fun and determination.
In Reality, school is frustrating, work is annoying, social interaction a bother, participating in politics a farce. That’s why todays social and economical scientists look with interest at what Game Designer have to say about Gamification and try to implement game mechanics into their systems.
There exist plenty of mechanics for gamification but it is important to know your target group before applying them.
Who is in my Target Group?
A company like Jack Wolfskin for example produces functional and beautiful fashion for explorer and achiever, two of four gamer types first described by Bartles in the early 90’s. Until recently, the gamer types haven’t been used as models to describe entire personalities rather to define the behavior of people inside games. However, since the entertainment industry, espcially the gaming sector has become a crucial part of our lives and we can call our kids digital natives, scientists tend to use the four types to categorize consumers.
What Game Mechanics fit to my Target Group?
Back to the example: Jack Wolfskin has figured out that their customers are explorer and achiever. These are people who go out to climb the highest mountains and find places of beauty that no one else has seen before. They are attracteed by game mechanics that deal with achievements and discovery that allow them to brag or boost their self- esteem.
What is my benefit?
To get the attention and loyalty of these characters Jack Wolfskin could hide items and links on their website for users to find and collect. Every found item earns the player points that can be later redeemed for discounts on products. This virtual treasure hunt responds to the customers interests and will make them stay longer on the website and let them skim through all the advertisement.
Additionally the marketeers could integrate a highscore which compares the points of each user and stimulates competition. Competition drags again new users into the game and ultimately to the website because some who were reluctant first think they can do better or loyal and convinced customers dare their friends to get a better result. With simple Game Mechanics like that, implemented to your online store, you can boost the activity, increase the visits and give incentives for sales. And this is just one marketing example!
The process of Gamification is happening right now and is going to affect us stronger than we might expect.
With change that happens so fast come problems that critics address: a guiding of customers past the actual benefit of the product to mere consumption for the fun that entails it. That is a question of Social Responsibility that my blogging partners might address in the future. Next week I am going to go into detail how Gamification can save the world.